Seven top tips for creating a bee-friendly garden
- Credit: Julie Kemp
Gardeners are being offered seven top tips on how to create a blooming oasis for bees and other pollinators to enjoy.
The green-fingered advice, from online retailer BillyOh.com, follows warnings that bees in the UK are in decline, Friends of the Earth has blamed habitat loss and climate change, as well as toxic pesticides and disease.
Despite the current heatwave, bees were hit by the recent long, hard winter. Sir David Attenborough recently warned via his Facebook page that the bee population has dropped by a third in the past five years. He said that some tired bees could be mistaken for dead, but it was often possible to revive them via a mixture of sugar and water.
East Anglia is known for its beautiful countryside and gardens, so this part of the country can play a vital role in helping bees to thrive.
A spokesperson for BillyOh.com said: “Ideally your garden should contain lots of bee-friendly flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar, but you could even go a step further by supplying a bee-bath and a place for native bees to build their homes!” Here are seven top tips:
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• Opt for single-headed flowers - Although double headed flowers such as roses and carnations might look great, they produce much less nectar and make it difficult for bees to access pollen. Daisies, poppies, sweet peas, geraniums and marigolds all make it easier for a bee to get to the pollen.
• Plant purple flowers - Bees can see purple more clearly than any other colour, so it’s a good idea to grow lots of plants in versions of this shade, such as lavender, alliums and catmint.
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• Provide flowers for all seasons - Bee season is from March to September, but some may emerge on warm winter days too, so it’s important to provide flowers all through the year. The ideal is to have at least two nectar or pollen-rich plants in flower at any one time.
• Choose tubular-shaped flowers - Long-tongued bees, such as the garden bumblebee, like flowers such as snapdragons, foxgloves and honeysuckle.
• Remember shrubs - Flowers might be the obvious plants to attract bees, but shrubs can also attract these insects and many have year-round interest. The Cotoneaster has small white flowers in the spring, which bees love, and then bright red berries to attract birds in the autumn.
• Provide homes for native bees - Piles of branches, bamboo sections, hollow reeds and nesting blocks made out of untreated wood can all provide bee homes. Burrowing bees will make use of sunny, uncultivated spots, while many bee species are attracted to weedy, untended hedgerows.
• Create a ‘bee-bath’ - It’s not just birds that need fresh water in the garden - bees do too. You can help them by filling a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking. Make sure to maintain the container full of fresh water to ensure the bees know that they can return to the same spot every day.